Ethnic Eating 101: Korean, Part 3

mmmmliquor.jpg
alanchan @ flickr.com CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Mmmm, Korean liquor...
This week's installment keeps us in Korea, but might be better titled "Ethnic Drinking 101", since the bulk of the writing this week involves getting your Korean drink on. Koreans don't drink without eating, though, which means there are a lot of bar snacks, and they aren't your typical pretzels either. We'll delve a little bit more deeply into one of those bar snacks (fried chicken) and then close for now with a one-bowl lunch that's spicy, satisfying and good for you.

Soju and anju

soju1.jpg
roboppy @ flickr.com CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Koreans enjoy going out to drink as much as anyone else. Social evenings are arranged by companies, by groups of friends, and even by families. Bars stay open quite late (except where prohibited by buzz-killing local liquor laws) and everyone takes the opportunity to let their hair down a little while drinking an astonishing amount of soju.

Soju is Korean vodka, a clear spirit distilled from rice, potatoes or yams. It's not nearly as strong as vodka (usually 40-50 proof, whereas vodka is normally 80 proof). When drunk by itself it has, shall we say, an unpleasant aftertaste, but adding the smallest amount of any flavor will kill the aftertaste. Some Korean bars will give you whole lemons with bottles of soju. Use the bottle cap to break into the lemon, then squeeze the juice into the shotglasses. A couple of drops per glass will suffice to take the harsh edge off.

I am, I am somewhat consternated to say, an expert on soju. I had my bachelor party at a bar in Koreatown and drank so much that my wife worried that I'd miss the wedding due to alcohol poisoning. Ah, youth... I can barely get through 20 shots of soju without being besottedly drunk these days.

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